The major change with the latest Gibson Les Paul lineup is a defined split into two series, the Gibson Les Paul Original and the Gibson Les Paul Modern. However, as with previous lineups, you also have various options that divert from the Les Paul Standard models like the Junior, Special, Studio, Classic, Traditional and more. This guide will help you navigate these various options so you can find the exact Les Paul that speaks to your style, personality, and budget.

The LP Junior vs The LP Junior Tribute DC 

Gibson launched the first Les Paul Junior back in 1954 in an effort to offer a more affordable version of the original standard model. This scaled down Les Paul featured a more basic non-carved top, only two knobs (Tone & Volume), and perhaps its most iconic offering, a single bridge mounted P-90 “dog ear” pickup. By 1957 the Les Paul standard had swapped it’s P90 for the new humbucking “patent applied for” or “PAF” pickup which was developed to remove issues like the 60-cycle hum. However, the iconic P-90 has been described as “the most pissed-off pickup on Earth.” It was this style of tone that solidified the popularity of the “simple” LP. In fact, rather than remove it from the catalog, the Junior received a close cousin in 1958 with the release of the double cutaway version. This divergence set the stage for the different options we see with Gibson’s latest releases.

Gibson Les Paul Junior

The Original Collection Gibson Les Paul Junior takes it back to the brand’s Golden Era. Having been embraced by musicians for over 60 years, Gibson stayed true to form with this latest incarnation. Featuring a single cutaway slab mahogany body with mahogany neck and rosewood fingerboard with acrylic dot inlays, this Les Paul Junior is loaded with a single Dog Ear P-90 pickup, single volume and tone controls with black top hat knobs, wraparound bridge, and Vintage Deluxe tuners with white buttons. The neck shape is an era-appropriate Vintage 50’s profile, and the guitar is coated in a gloss nitrocellulose finish. All about keeping it simple, the Gibson Les Paul Junior is only available in Tobacco Sunburst. This guitar includes a Gibson Hardshell Case and Gibson Accessory Kit.

Features:

  • Vintage 50s Mahogany Neck
  • Mahogany Body
  • Gloss Nitrocellulose Finish
  • Rosewood Fingerboard
  • Vintage Deluxe Tuners
  • Wraparound Bridge
  • Single Dog Ear P-90 Pickup
  • 1 Volume, 1 Tone Controls
  • Includes Hardshell Case and Accessory Kit

Gibson Les Paul Junior Tribute DC

For the longest time the DC model was only available within the Custom Shop as an exclusive re-issue. However, due to popular demand, the company released the Gibson Les Paul Junior Tribute DC in the late 2000s. Standout features of this highly regarded Modern Collection LP include the more modern positioning of the P-90, a Slim Taper neck profile, and an updated pickguard. While most people associate the P-90 with its original Dog Ear style mounting, the Les Paul Junior Tribute DC goes with the interior mounted “soapbar” style pickup. The tonal effects of this move are minimal according to most experts but it definitely offers a more familiar aesthetic when shown among other guitars on our wall. The Junior Tribute DC also incorporates maple rather than mahogany for its notably slimmer neck profile when compared to the chunkier builds of the 50s Jr’s. The DC Tribute also has Vintage Deluxe machine tuners with beautiful white buttons, a wraparound bridge, and the straightforward 1-volume/1-tone control section. The color choices feature a more natural appeal with options including Worn Ebony, Worn Cherry, Worn Brown, and Blue Stain. The guitar includes a protective Gibson Gig Bag.

Features:

  • Slim Taper Maple Neck
  • Mahogany Body
  • Satin Finish
  • Rosewood Fingerboard
  • Vintage Deluxe Tuners
  • Compensated Wraparound Bridge (Chrome)
  • Single P-90 Pickup
  • 1 Volume, 1 Tone Controls
  • Includes Gig bag

The Les Paul Special vs Les Paul Special Tribute DC

Hot on the trail of the Les Paul Junior was the Les Paul Special. Introduced in 1955, only a year after the Junior, the Les Paul Special featured some upgrades that made it a very desirable instrument. Packed with two soapbar P-90 pickups, the Special featured the traditional Gibson 4-knob control layout (2 Volume, 2 Tone) and a 3-way toggle switch, making it much more tonally diverse than the Junior. The Les Paul Special also received a bound fretboard. Like the Junior, the Special received a double cutaway version in the late 50s that featured a slimmer neck profile and modified pickup placement. Both unique instruments have found their way back into production thanks to Gibson’s current lineup. 

Gibson Les Paul Special

Like the Les Paul Junior, the Original Collection Gibson Les Paul Special stays true to its 50’s roots. Featuring a slab mahogany body, the Les Paul Special sports a pair of soapbar P-90 pickups, 4-knob control layout (2 Volume, 2 Tone), and 3-way toggle switch. The mahogany neck hosts a bound, rosewood fingerboard with acrylic dot inlays, and features a Vintage 50’s neck profile. Rounded out by a wraparound bridge and Vintage Deluxe tuning machines with white buttons, the Les Paul Special is available in TV Yellow with a gloss nitrocellulose lacquer finish. This guitar includes a Gibson Hardshell Case.

Features:

  • Vintage 50s Mahogany Neck
  • Mahogany Body
  • Gloss Nitrocellulose Finish
  • Bound Rosewood Fingerboard
  • Vintage Deluxe Tuners
  • Wraparound Bridge
  • Dual Soapbar P-90 Pickups
  • 2 Volume, 2 Tone Controls, 3-Way Toggle Switch
  • Includes Hardshell Case

Gibson Les Paul Special Tribute DC

The Modern Collection Les Paul Special Tribute DC takes the Les Paul Junior Tribute DC platform and adds a rhythm P-90 pickup and 3-way toggle switch. Though similar to the Les Paul Special Double Cut of the late 50s, this current version opts for a simpler 2-knob control layout (1 Volume, 1 Tone) instead of the traditional 4-knob layout. The mahogany body is paired with a maple, Slim Taper neck with an unbound rosewood fingerboard. As with the Junior Tribute DC, the Special Tribute DC comes with the same compensated wraparound bridge, Vintage Deluxe tuning machines with white buttons, and the same color options as well. Choose from Worn Cherry, Worn Brown, Worn Ebony, or Blue Stain. A satin nitrocellulose lacquer finish gives these guitars a worn, broken in look that most will find extremely appealing. The guitar includes a protective Gibson Gig Bag.

Features: 

  • Slim Taper Maple Neck
  • Mahogany Body
  • Satin Finish
  • Rosewood Fingerboard
  • Vintage Deluxe Tuners
  • Compensated Wraparound Bridge (Chrome)
  • Dual P-90 Pickups
  • 1 Volume, 1 Tone Controls, 3-Way Toggle Switch
  • Includes Gig bag

Les Paul Tribute

The Modern Collection Les Paul Tribute takes everything you love about a traditional Les Paul and presents it in a sleek, streamlined package. Available in 4 classic finishes (Iced Tea, Honeyburst, Tobacco Burst, Cherry Sunburst), the Les Paul Tribute features a mahogany body with ultra-modern weight relief and a maple top, a maple neck with a rounded neck profile, unbound rosewood fingerboard with acrylic trapezoid inlays, and a satin nitrocellulose lacquer finish. The Les Paul Tribute roars, thanks to a pair of 490 R & T humbuckers, and a traditional 2 volume, 2 tone, 3-way toggle switch layout allows players to access a variety of tones. For hardware, Gibson has opted for an aluminum Nashville Tune-O-Matic bridge, aluminum stop bar, and Vintage Deluxe tuners with Keystone buttons. This guitar includes a Gibson Softshell Case.

Features:

  • Rounded Maple Neck
  • Mahogany Body with Maple Top
  • Satin Nitrocellulose Finish
  • Unbound Rosewood Fingerboard with Acrylic Trapezoid Inlays
  • Vintage Deluxe Tuners with Keystone Buttons
  • Aluminum Nashville Tune-O-Matic Bridge with Aluminum Stop Bar
  • 490 R & T Humbucker Pickups
  • 2 Volume, 2 Tone Controls, 3-Way Toggle Switch
  • Includes Softshell Case

Les Paul Studio A staple of the Gibson line since 1983, the Les Paul Studio is a true Les Paul through and through, save for a few cosmetic differences. The Modern Collection Les Paul Studio features a mahogany body with maple top, slim taper mahogany neck, and an unbound rosewood fingerboard with acrylic trapezoid inlays. Gibson has chosen the aluminum Nashville Tune-O-Matic bridge, aluminum stop bar, and Grover Rotomatic tuning machines. The traditional 4-knob layout gets a slight makeover thanks to black speed knobs, and the two volume controls feature push-pull pots for additional coil-tapping options. The Studio is loaded with Gibson 490R & 498T humbuckers, shines thanks to a gloss nitrocellulose finish and is available in 4 unique finishes: Smokehouse Burst, Tangerine Burst, Wine Red and Ebony. This guitar includes a Gibson Softshell Case.

Features:

  • Slim Taper Mahogany Neck
  • Mahogany Body with Maple Top
  • Gloss Nitrocellulose Finish
  • Unbound Rosewood Fingerboard with Acrylic Trapezoid Inlays
  • Grover Rotomatic Tuners
  • Aluminum Nashville Tune-O-Matic Bridge with Aluminum Stop Bar
  • 490 R & 498 T Humbucker Pickups
  • 2 Volume (Push/Pull), 2 Tone Controls, 3-Way Toggle Switch
  • Includes Softshell Case

Les Paul Classic 

The Modern Collection Les Paul Classic blends the early 60’s style Les Paul with some modern tweaks, making for an extremely versatile instrument with endless tonal possibilities. In typical Gibson fashion, we have a mahogany body with a maple top, and a slim taper mahogany neck with a bound rosewood fingerboard and acrylic trapezoid inlays. The hardware on this model includes an ABR-1 Tune-O-Matic bridge, aluminum stopbar, Grover Rotomatics with kidney bean buttons, and gold top hat control knobs with silver reflectors. For pickups, Gibson has chosen the Burstbucker 61R & 61T zebra humbuckers. When it comes to the 4-knob, 3-way toggle switch control layout, Gibson has added push/pull pots so in addition to your standard 2-volume, 2-tone controls, you also have coil-tapping, phase switching, and pure bypassing options as well. The Les Paul Classic is available in Translucent Cherry, Heritage Cherry Sunburst, Honeyburst, and Ebony, all featuring a gloss nitrocellulose lacquer finish. This guitar includes a Gibson Hardshell Case.

Features:

  • Slim Taper Mahogany Neck
  • Mahogany Body with Maple Top
  • Gloss Nitrocellulose Finish
  • Bound Rosewood Fingerboard with Acrylic Trapezoid Inlays
  • Grover Rotomatic Tuners with Kidney Buttons
  • ABR-1 Tune-O-Matic Bridge with Aluminum Stop Bar
  • Burstbucker 61R & 61T Zebra Humbucker Pickups
  • 2 Push/Pull Volume (Coil Tap), 2 Push/Pull Tone Controls (Pure Bypass/Phase), 3-Way Toggle Switch
  • Includes Hardshell Case

Les Paul Standard 50s

If you want a Les Paul with that 50’s feel and tone, look no further than the Gibson Les Paul Standard 50s. Part of their Original Collection, this Les Paul is sure to put a smile on the face of those players looking for that classic design that influenced generations. The Les Paul Standard 50s features a mahogany body with maple top, mahogany neck with Vintage 50’s neck profile, bound rosewood fingerboard, and acrylic trapezoid inlays. A Burstbucker 1 humbucker in the neck position provides a nice mellow tone for leads, while a slightly hotter Burstbucker 2 humbucker in the bridge produces the perfect bite for aggressive rhythms. The traditional 4-knob, 3-way toggle switch control layout is hand-wired and features Orange Drop capacitors. The Standard 50s is equipped with an ABR-1 Tune-O-Matic bridge, aluminum stopbar, and vintage deluxe tuners with Keystone buttons, and is available in 4 classic finishes that shine thanks to a gloss nitrocellulose lacquer: Gold Top, Heritage Cherry Sunburst, and Tobacco Burst. This guitar includes a Gibson Hardshell Case.

Features:

  • Vintage 50s Mahogany Neck
  • Mahogany Body with Maple Top
  • Gloss Nitrocellulose Finish
  • Bound Rosewood Fingerboard with Acrylic Trapezoid Inlays
  • Vintage Deluxe Tuners with Keystone Buttons
  • ABR-1 Tune-O-Matic Bridge with Aluminum Stop Bar
  • Burstbucker 1 & Burstbucker 2 Humbucker Pickups
  • 2 Volume, 2 Tone Controls (Hand-Wired with Orange Drop Capacitors), 3-Way Toggle Switch
  • Includes Hardshell Case

Les Paul Standard 50s P90

Want a 50s inspired Les Paul with the throaty growl that you can only get from a P90? The Gibson Les Paul Standard 50s P90 has got you covered! Part of the Original Collection, Gibson takes the Les Paul Standard 50s and swaps out humbuckers for a pair of their P90 pickups. The P90 was first introduced in by Gibson in 1946, and it has been revered for its unique sound that sits somewhere between single coil and humbucker. Delivering fat, punchy tone with some bite, P90s are very versatile and can be used for genres from jazz to metal. The makeup of the guitar includes a mahogany body with maple top, mahogany neck with Vintage 50’s neck profile, bound rosewood fingerboard, and acrylic trapezoid inlays. The traditional 4-knob, 3-way toggle switch control layout is hand-wired and features Orange Drop capacitors. The Les Paul Standard 50’s P90 is equipped with an ABR-1 Tune-O-Matic bridge, aluminum stopbar, and vintage deluxe tuners with Keystone buttons. Gibson offers the Standard 50’s P90 as a Gold Top with gloss nitrocellulose lacquer. This guitar includes a Gibson Hardshell Case.

Features:

  • Vintage 50s Mahogany Neck
  • Mahogany Body with Maple Top
  • Gloss Nitrocellulose Finish
  • Bound Rosewood Fingerboard with Acrylic Trapezoid Inlays
  • Vintage Deluxe Tuners with Keystone Buttons
  • ABR-1 Tune-O-Matic Bridge with Aluminum Stop Bar
  • Two P90 Pickups
  • 2 Volume, 2 Tone Controls (Hand-Wired with Orange Drop Capacitors), 3-Way Toggle Switch
  • Includes Hardshell Case

Les Paul Standard 60s

The Original Collection Les Paul Standard 60s is a real beauty. The mahogany body is topped with a AA figured maple top. You’ve also got a slim taper 60’s-stlye mahogany neck, bound rosewood fingerboard with acrylic trapezoid inlays, and it’s coated in a gloss nitrocellulose lacquer finish. Under the hood you will find Burstbucker 61R & 61T pickups, Alnico V humbuckers voiced to get a 60’s style tone. Choose one, or blend the two pickups thanks to a 3-way toggle switch. Your 2 Volume & 2 Tone controls are wired up with Orange Drop capacitors, and for hardware you’ve got an ABR-1 bridge with aluminum stopbar, Grover Rotomatics with kidney buttons, and gold top hat control knobs with silver reflectors and pointers. The Les Paul Standard 60s is available in 3 finishes: Iced Tea, Bourbon Burst, and Unburst. This guitar includes a Gibson Hardshell Case.

Features:

  • Slim Taper Mahogany Neck
  • Mahogany Body with AA Figured Maple Top
  • Gloss Nitrocellulose Finish
  • Bound Rosewood Fingerboard with Acrylic Trapezoid Inlays
  • Grover Rotomatic Tuners with Kidney Buttons
  • ABR-1 Tune-O-Matic Bridge with Aluminum Stop Bar
  • Burstbucker 61R & 61T Humbucker Pickups
  • 2 Volume, 2 Tone Controls (Hand-Wired with Orange Drop Capacitors), 3-Way Toggle Switch
  • Includes Hardshell Case

Les Paul Modern

Gibson’s Modern Collection presents the appropriately named Les Paul Modern. As the name suggests, Gibson has taken the Les Paul and incorporated some contemporary features. From the body to the electronics, this Les Paul is a perfect for the modern player. The Les Paul Modern features a mahogany body with ultra-modern weight relief and a maple top, an asymmetrical slim taper mahogany neck with a modern contoured heel, and a bound rosewood fretboard with a compound radius and acrylic trapezoid inlays. For electronics, Gibson has gone with a set of Burstbucker Pro Rhythm & Lead humbucker pickups. Players have access to a wide array of tones thanks to 2 volume controls, 2 tone controls, and a 3-way toggle switch. Similar to the Classic, the Modern features push/pull pots for coil-tapping, phase switching, and pure bypassing options, allowing for even more tonal versatility. Hardware upgrades include an aluminum Nashville Tune-O-Matic with aluminum stopbar, Grover Locking Rotomatics with Keystone buttons, and clear top hat control knobs. You have your choice of 3 finishes for the maple top: Faded Pelham Blue, Sparkling Burgundy, and Graphite. This guitar includes a Gibson Hardshell Case.

Features:  

  • Asymmetrical Slim Taper Mahogany Neck with Modern Contoured Heel
  • Mahogany Body with Maple Top
  • Gloss Nitrocellulose Finish
  • Bound Rosewood Fingerboard with a Compound Radius and Acrylic Trapezoid Inlays
  • Grover Locking Rotomatic Tuners with Keystone Buttons
  • Nashville Tune-O-Matic Bridge with Aluminum Stop Bar
  • Burstbucker Pro Rhythm & Lead Humbucker Pickups
  • 2 Push/Pull Volume (Coil Tap), 2 Push/Pull Tone Controls (Pure Bypass/Phase), 3-Way Toggle Switch
  • Includes Hardshell Case

As you can see, Gibson’s latest Les Paul lineup offers a deep selection of great guitars. We hope this guide provided some comprehensive information about the similarities and differences between each model. If you have any additional questions, visit our stores to consult an expert. If you’re not near a store, don’t worry, just call 800-472-6274 to speak to our dedicated call center sales team. In the meantime, be sure to check out our Gibson Les Paul Guitars of Distinction featuring individually photographed guitars handpicked by Sammy Ash. The collection also includes some absolutely stunning Gibson Custom Les Pauls. Finally, if none of the guitars in this guide work with your current budget, be sure to check out our Epiphone Les Paul collection.